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Preschool Children's Understanding of the Coordinated Concepts of Distance, Movement, Number, and Time

Rothenberg, Barbara B.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
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Subject/Key Words:
Carnegie Corporation, Cognitive Development, Concept Formation, Developmental Psychology, Preschool Children


Preschool children's understanding of distance and movement concepts was investigated with a series of problem situations based partially upon the previous work of Piaget. Subjects were 248 lower and middle class children in nursery school, Head Start, and kindergarten in New York City. Their performance on different problems of distance understanding was investigated along with the impact of practice in each situation on subsequent performance in similar situations. The relationships of age, social class, gender, and intelligence with these spatial concepts was also studied. Lastly, because of the similarity in the processes underlying distance concepts and those of conservation, the relationship between the former and conservation of number was investigated. The results show that the situation in which attention had to be directed to only one type of difference had a much higher percentage correct than when two types of differences had to be observed in order to solve the problem correctly. Although there were no social class differences in the predictions made for the initial presentation of each situation, there were large social class differences for the task as a whole. There were also substantial correlations between distance understanding and age, intelligence, and conservation, but not with gender. (JGL)

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